Tory minister accuses Nicola Sturgeon of getting priorities wrong
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Appearing before MSPs at Holyrood to outline the Scottish Government’s plans for the upcoming year, Nicola Sturgeon vowed to tackle the climate crisis and host another independence referendum before the end of 2023. But the First Minister has failed to inform the Scottish Parliament of her plans for a state-run energy company, which she promised as early as 2017. Instead, Ms Sturgeon’s Government will pursue a “new dedicated public energy agency” that will work with the public and private sector.
In a desperate bid to attract voters to SNP’s side, Ms Sturgeon pledged four years ago to set up a cheap, state-owned energy company.
Speaking at an SNP party conference in 2017, she said Scottish energy would be bought wholesale or generated in Scotland, allowing customers to buy “as close to cost price as possible”.
She added: “No shareholders to worry about. No corporate bonuses to consider.”
However, Scottish Labour have now said the energy pledge has been dropped from the SNP and Green’s partnership agreement published in a 50-page document last week.
According to a report in Daily Business, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said Ms Sturgeon has not made substantial progress towards the goal in the last four years.
Nicola Sturgeon appears to have dropped plans for a state-owned energy company in Scotland (Image: GETTY)
The Scottish First Minister revealed plans for an indyref2 by the end of 2023 (Image: GETTY)
Mr Murray’s comments followed his visit to the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney where scientists are conducting research into tidal energy.
He said: “It’s astonishing there is not a single mention of a public energy company in the SNP and Green coalitions agreement.
“It adds to an ever-increasing list of broken promises from the Scottish Government.”
Mr Murray went on to say Scottish Labour have been calling for the pledge to “move beyond the paper stage” to help support Scotland’s renewable energy sector.
Renewable energy and Scotland’s energy independence have long been considered a key issue that could help the SNP secure an indyref2 bill.
Earlier in June this year, Lorna Slater, the Green co-leader and now Government minister, slated Ms Sturgeon for the lack of substantial progress on the issue of a state-run energy company.
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Mr Murray has now said it is vital Scotland does not “lose its edge” in tidal energy due to inaction from the SNP-Green partnership.
He added: “Nicola Sturgeon and her Green partners must live up their promises and deliver a new public energy company.”
According to a Scottish Government spokesperson, worked on a planned public energy company came to a halt due to the Covid pandemic.
The spokesperson said: “As announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport in June, ministers will now focus government efforts on a new dedicated national public energy agency.
“This will coordinate and accelerate delivery of heat and energy efficiency work, inform and educate the public on the changes required, provide expert advice to national and local government, and work with public, private and third sector partners to deliver this transformative national project.”
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Scotland’s energy independence is a key issue for indyref2 (Image: GETTY)
Further details concerning the new plans will be outlined before the Scottish Parliament “in due course”.
Last month, the First Minister announced a historic deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens that would give the Scottish Government a “cast-iron mandate” for another independence referendum.
However, Ms Sturgeon stressed at a press conference the two parties have not struck a coalition deal and “we do not agree on everything”.
The partnership instead will see the two parties work on several key issues, including investment in green energy, public transport and introducing a “real Living Wage”.
Ms Sturgeon also told Holyrood today the SNP and Greens will push for another independence referendum within the next two years.
The First Minister said: “Our democratic mandate to allow people to decide the country’s future is beyond question.
“And at this juncture in history, it is essential that we consider the kind of country we want to be, and how best to secure it.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, choices fall to be made that will shape our economy and society for decades to come.
“Which Parliament – Westminster or Holyrood – should make these choices?